Xavi post-Bayern loss: “Champions League slipped out of our hands when we had hold of it”
Barça boss Xavi Hernádez spoke to the press in the wake of the 0-3 UCL defeat to Bayern
“From inside the club,” Xavi admitted, “the diagnosis is clear. [Qualification] got out of our hands when we had hold of it.” The manager showed his sadness in his pre-match press conference this Friday, with Valencia the team that will be looking to kick Barcelona while they’re down.
“Of course” Xavi replied when asked if the league takes top spot in the list of priorities for FC Barcelona for the rest of the long season, “We have to try and fight to win [it].” In terms of their short European adventure in the top competition, Xavi says he prefers to keep in mind Barça’s efforts in the away fixture in Germany, a match they lost 2-0: “you [the journalist] will keep thinking about the Barça-Bayern but I prefer to think about the Bayern-Barça game. I have the feeling, and I’m going to be honest here, that we competed with Bayern.”
“Sometimes we lack calmness. Football is more about the centre-midfielders than we think and sometimes we lack calmness. We want Pedri to participate a lot. I keep insisting that he get’s to the box, that he be an important figure on the pitch. He has everything needed to win.”
The Valencia challenge
Talking about the upcoming game, Xavi Valencia will propose yet another challenge for his side: “You might think that Gattuso would make his side a defensive team but the opposite is true. They are brave, they squeeze you up the pitch, they’re dynamic. We might see a similar game to the one against Athletic. I think it will be a good game for the viewer; the coaches suffer more, but we’re coming from a good dynamic. We have to change the mental chip from the Champions League to La Liga.”
Over the course of the last few matches, Xavi has moved away from his original philosophy of two wingers high and wide up the pitch, instead opting for more control, going with 4 central midfielders. “[The reason for using an extra midfielder] depends on the game. I think we have more control, we dominate more. We are tidier, with more superiority inside. We can take advantage of the runs of the full-backs. It’s an alternative that we can use in certain moments.”
“I am still positive. The Champions League exit is a slap in the face but there are other tournaments and we still have to have a good season: time to fight”, Xavi responded when asked about the mental state of the team after the embarrassing European campaign. “We have done a self-assessment on what we lack in the big games. So there you go. Time to move on”. He also spoke about his communications with the top level of the club, namely president Joan Laporta: “We speak continuously. Not every day, of course, but we travel together. I see him after the matches.
Does he send you messages to encourage you? “No”, replies Xavi, “we see each other face to face. We have a friendship, there is absolute trust in what we are all doing and I think we are working well. He gives us confidence and I’m delighted with him.”
While keeping his cards close to his chest, the manager did not deny that conversation have been had regarding new arrivals at the club in the upcoming winter transfer market: “It’s still very early. I know there are four games to go [before the break for the World Cup]. The technical secretary is working but it is too early to talk about transfers.”
“We won’t stop working”, he continued, “I can see the confidence in the project and we are calm. The expectations are high and this is not what we wanted. We are out of the Champions League, maybe one of the most important objectives. We have to put up with the criticism and keep working. There’s nothing else for me to do other than continue to work hard.”
Xavi’s thoughts on the players
On Bellerín: “He is similar to Sergi Roberto. It’s the job that a full-back has at Barça. I am happy with Héctor despite the last game where we all suffered.”
On Gavi: He has a niggle but he doesn’t complain because he’s a gentleman. He has a small injury. Tomorrow he’s available, but we’ll wait and see if he can play. We’ll try on Tuesday to see if he can play, if there are no risks.”
On Pablo Torre: He is a winner. He hasn’t played much. but is a competitor. I am confident in him and it could be justified.
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